Mentor Moment: Indian Cave

By Sandy Schenck

Written by Mentor Case Kennedy

This week I got to take the Bright Group of GLP Campers up to the Hidden Indian Cave. We started the hike with our trusty assistant “Moose” and began the trek downhill through white pines and hemlocks.

The campers had their eyes peeled for a change in vegetation that would give us a hint that the cave was near. Lucky for us an amazing rhododendron was in full bloom marking the entrance to the cave! We all strapped on our spelunking helmets and topped them off with head lamps. We were ready to start our exploration into the main room of the cave!

We crawled over roots down into the cave and the campers took turns looking up through the chimney hole.  We imagined what it would be like be Cherokees walking along the Trail of Tears and having to hide out in the cave.

Campers then were given the opportunity to crawl into the wet cave to retrieve a “Bravery Bead.”  To receive a bravery bead a camper must crawl to the back of the wet cave in complete darkness to a counselor sitting with only a small candle and a basket of beads.  All the beads are of a different mineral and have different uses and meanings to the Native Americans in the area.

Once everyone was in the cave we told the story of the Cherokee Rainbow Bird.  We all got to experience the natural air conditioning of the caves chilly climate and listen to the gentle water drops gradually eroding the granite surrounding us.  Afterwards the campers had the option to creep into the dry cave to use a new set of senses to navigate the smaller passage and lower ceiling.

Once out of the cave we hiked back to the trailhead and read about the “Animal Medicine” that all the animals in the area have to teach us. We may not have found the fourth animal to our Grand Slam but we did learn that if we look closely and do a little exploring amazing adventures are hidden right off the trail.